Andy Schofield is a saxophonist/arranger from Manchester, born in 1966. He lived in Berlin from 2009-13, and now lives in Prague. Andy has been active on the UK jazz scene for many years, and was a long-time member of the Creative Jazz Orchestra, working alongside a diversity of international artists such as Kenny Wheeler, Bill Frisell, Peter Erskine, John Taylor, Anthony Braxton, Mike Gibbs, and Vince Mendoza.
In 2005 Andy was commissioned to write a suite to commemorate the 10th Manchester Jazz Festival, featuring guest artist John Taylor. In 2008 the CD "Another Place" was released, featuring Andy and long-time friend and collaborator, pianist Les Chisnall. Andy has been lead alto in Tim Garland's Northern Underground Orchestra, the Creative Jazz Orchestra (in big band projects with Mike Gibbs, Vince Mendoza and Kenny Wheeler) and in the John Taylor Big Band.
As an arranger, he has worked in the commercial and jazz worlds, and contributed arrangements to the BBC Big Band, Ronnie Scott's Club Jazz Orchestra and Bulgarian Radio Big Band, amongst others. In 2011/12 Andy was a featured soloist on both alto and tenor sax on George Michael's Symphonica European tour, and subsequent album and TV documentary (2014).
Andy currently leads the Andy Schofield Jazz Orchestra, a new big band based in Prague, playing his own original compositions and arrangements.
What was your earliest musical experience?
My first memory of music was hearing my Dad’s big band records. He was a big jazz fan, and there was always music playing in our house. The first band I played in at school was a German-style Oompah band! I’d like to say that experience has come in useful in later life, but unfortunately it hasn’t (at least not yet…).
Who encouraged you to study music?
My music teacher at grammar school, Peter Rose – he was a brilliant pianist, who would play Chopin preludes and Beethoven sonatas to our class. Very inspiring! He encouraged me to take up the clarinet.
Who made you aspire to a career in music?
My first saxophone teacher, a colourful character called Tommy Cudley. An unorthodox teacher, lessons would often consist of listening to cassettes of Duke Ellington or Count Basie on his car stereo in the school car park! I would often deputise for him in local big bands – a great learning experience for a teenager. I think one of the best things a teacher can do is give students the opportunity to play, and put into practise what they’ve been learning.
Who’s your greatest inspiration?
There are many, but one above all: the late, great pianist John Taylor.
Was there anything in particular that made you choose to study at Leeds College of Music?
It was the only place that ran a jazz course in 1984! And therefore, it was the only place I applied to! I wanted to study saxophone with Al Wood, a virtuoso on several instruments, and arranging with Tony Faulkner – ironically the three years I was at Leeds coincided with Tony’s three years living in Australia! (I managed to hook up with him on his return.) Both have continued to be inspirational figures for me.
What was your favourite thing about studying in Leeds?
The tutors at LCoM made it more than just a place to study – it felt like a place you belonged, a family. On my recent visit for the LCoM50 Legacy Big Band concert, it was nice to see that spirit still there with the current staff and students.
How would you describe the challenges and joys of studying in Leeds?
I think the best thing was playing music every day, in my first year I used to hang around rehearsal rooms to see if anyone was off sick in the bands I wasn’t usually in. Back in the 80s, we didn’t have the facilities that LCoM has now, in particular a dedicated performance space like The Venue. It’s great to see how the college has developed in that way.
Who would be your dream collaboration?
Already done that one! In 2005 I was commissioned to write a suite for the 10th Manchester Jazz Festival, featuring John Taylor.
Where would you most like to have your music played?
I hope musicians of the future will want to play it!
What has your journey been like since leaving LCoM?
Musically quite varied, from free jazz to arena pop tours, and most things in between! I think being versatile is essential for musicians these days. I was based in Manchester for about 15 years, then Berlin for 4. For the last 2 years I’ve been living in Prague, where there is a thriving jazz scene.
How has your study at LCoM aided your career so far?
My teachers at LCoM taught me above all to enjoy playing music, and to be open-minded.
What has been your greatest achievement?
Whenever I’ve done something I’ve felt satisfied with, or been proud of, I’ve always said “don’t let this be the best thing you ever do”. So, I’ve always tried remain ambitious and to look ahead to the next thing.
Where would you like to be in five years?
Right now I’m enjoying life in Prague, making friends and playing with some great musicians, so have no plans to change in the near future. I’ve just started a big band here, to play my original music, which I’m hoping will be a long-term project.
If you had one piece of advice for a prospective student, what would it be?
Being at LCoM is the only time in your life that you’ll get to focus on music all the time, without the distractions of earning a living – make the most of it!
Andy’s Selected Discography:
Andy Schofield & Les Chisnall "Another Place" (2008)
George Michael "Symphonica" (2014)
John Taylor & The Creative Jazz Orchestra "Exits & Entrances" (2001)
June Tabor & The Creative Jazz Orchestra "A Quiet Eye" (1999)
Anthony Braxton & The Creative Jazz Orchestra "Compositions 175 & 126" (1995)
Richard Iles "From Here To There" (1999) featuring Richard Iles Andy Schofield Jazz Orchestra (also as arranger)
Tim Garland & Northern Underground Orchestra "Due North" (2007)
Mike Walker "Madhouse And The Whole Thing There" (also as arranger)
North West Real Book Band (2010)
Stuart McCallum "Stuart McCallum" (2011)
Georgina Jackson "Watch What Happens" (2012) (arranger)
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